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THE NEW PALS CLUB WEB-LOG

THE NEW PALS CLUB WEB-LOG
improbable-looking limestone karsts in Guilin

Thursday, May 24, 2012

buckwheat cakes!



Here's two minutes of, for me, pure unadulterated joy from an old LP of songs from the Mickey Mouse Club. Buddy Ebsen, just then working on the Davy Crockett series, teams with Mouseketeer Darlene Gillespie in a homespun paean to the humble buckwheat pancake. Accordion and pedal steel guitar figure prominently in the accompaniment, along with clarinet, and unobtrusive rhythm.)

Buddy & Darlene:
Buckwheat cakes, buckwheat cakes, along with crispy bacon!
Yes it is your buckwheat cakes that sets my heart to achin'!

(The accordion echoes the word "bacon!" Buddy and Darlene sing in harmony.)

Buddy:
It can't be your chocolate cake, or your Irish stew
It can't be your chocolate cake that makes me fond of you!

(Listen to the warmth Buddy can put into a recital of foods. He twinkles with his voice, just enough that I can feel it in 2012, and not so much as to cloy.)

Both:
It's buckwheat cakes, buckwheat cakes, along with crispy bacon!
Yes it is your buckwheat cakes that sets my heart to achin'!

Darlene:
What about my girlish ways, and my purty hair?
What about my girlish ways, or maybe you don't care?

(Darlene's voice is clear, with a melodious hillbilly accent that doesn't interfere with her diction.)

Buddy:
No, it ain't your girlish ways, or your purty hair.
No, it ain't your girlish ways that makes me set and stare.

(It's not as if he's rejecting her here. He just has different reasons.)

Both:
It's buckwheat cakes, buckwheat cakes, along with crispy bacon!
Yes it is your buckwheat cakes that sets my heart to achin'!

(A sprightly instrumental solo follows, with some tasty work on clarinet and pedal steel guitar. It goes around twice.)

Darlene:
How about my friendly smile, 'specially for you?
How about my friendly smile? I see you're smilin' too.

Buddy:
No, it ain't your friendly smile, or your dimpled chin.
No, it ain't your friendly smile that brings me back again.

(Listen to Buddy: "nnnnNNNO!!" He finds something that's probably not in the music; a little moment where he can make something out of nothing, adding to the song without even slowing the flow. And he doesn't waste it in an early verse, either. The second "no" suggests, but doesn't repeat, the first snap. And it's still playful.)

Both:
It's buckwheat cakes, buckwheat cakes, because I'm only human.
I just love the buckwheat cakes, made by a purty woman!

Buddy:
I just love the buckwheat cakes, made by a purty woman!

Darlene:
(spoken) Aw, Pa, quit your kiddin'!

(And Darlene rescues the song from what could have been seen as creepy by a cynical 21st century listener, putting it back squarely into the heartwarming category. Darlene may be eclipsed somewhat by Buddy's innate talent honed by decades of experience, but make no mistake: these are a pair of pros at the height of their powers. How much time do you suppose they had with this? A quarter of an hour? A half hour, from the time they were given the music to when the director said it was a wrap? I'm guessing closer to the former. This is star power, and it works for me every time I hear it.)

Music, lyrics, performance and recording ©Walt Disney Studios. If you liked this sample, go buy something.

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Dust is Whirling in the Dust


Arthur Kraft - Soldier with Death before a Carousel

Arthur Kraft — Private First Class Arthur Kraft, at the time — painted this during World War II. It was part of an exhibition called "Soldier Art," from which came one of those oblong GI paperbacks of the same title. In fifth or sixth grade, I saw the small, black and white photo of the picture and was struck by the technique and the infinitely sad subject matter. I looked online and couldn't find a color copy of it. I know now that it is probably because the picture is now known as "Soldier with Death before Carousel" instead of the Oscar Wilde quote that was with it in the book.

Kraft, who died in 1977 at age 55, lived in Kansas City, Missouri, and according to a website dedicated to his life and work, Kansas City has many examples of his work to be found, including several murals. This painting hangs in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, which I'd like to visit some day.

I pride myself on having gotten the best scan I could from the halftone picture in the book, but this color version (which I've adjusted slightly to correct for a yellow cast) has shown me much more detail. Interestingly, my mental image has been off all along — the color choices I'd imagined, such as a rich purple robe on Death (and I didn't know that was Death!), turn out to have been mistaken. Soon, I probably won't even remember what they were.

Also, the canopy of the carousel is interesting to me for personal reasons: I drew a graphite scene with an awning that was similarly striped, and viewed closely, it's a lot like the one in this picture. Was that unconscious inspiration? Or just the best way to draw a striped awning? No idea. At the risk of comparison, here's my drawing (graphite on copy paper):

Window Shopper

Well, they're not that much alike after all. I've been flattering myself. Anyway, I'm putting it there for my audience to enjoy. Last one out turns off the lights.
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